I got my new barn all closed in just before our heavy freeze took
over. But I still need to put 3 posts in the ground INSIDE the barn.
The soil in there is fairly dry on the top so I am hoping its not
frozen too solid or deep yet. But I did find the shovel was hard to
penetrate it yesterday. It was really too cold to proceed with the
Anyhow, I know the public utilities have a means to build a coal fire
on the top of the ground when they need to dig up something in the
street. I dont have access to coal, nor would I want to burn it
indoors because of the odor. But I can get regular charcoal. My
question is this: What is the best method to burn the charcoal to melt
the ground? Do i just burn it right on top of the soil, or should I
put some sort of metal container around it, or what? I mean in order
to deflect the heat downward, not as a safety measure. I am not
worried about causing a fire, when the nearest flammable (wall) is at
least 9 feet away, and I am not planning to make a huge fire, just the
amound needed to grill some burgers on the grill.
One other thing, would it be best to start the fire right on the
ground, or to start it in a grill first????
Yes, I know3 about ventillation to prevent CO2 poisoning. I'll leave
a door or window ajar, plus the barn has plenty of small leaks by each
rib in the steel along the roof edge. I will gradually plug those
with foam after the stalls are done.
PS. I recall the city used to place a half of a steel barrel drum over
the coal. I wonder if that helps thaw the ground, or is only to
prevent sparks from flying. I know regular coal tends to spark more
why can't you just pour boiling water on the ground so soften it up? It's
easier to heat up a big pot of water on a barbeque outside the barn, and the
water will work quickly working its way down, I think.
Why so you think you would need 100 gallons? I think about 5 gallons of hot
water for each hole would be enough. Like other posters have said, how deep
could the soil possibly be frozen this early in the Winter? Do you live in
Alaska? If you do, I guess it would be real deep :-)
Got any of the sheet tin left, or something similarly heat proof? Prop up 4
walls and a lid, (like a deer blind or fishing shanty) and run the output
from a construction heater into that confined space. Local rentall place
probably has them. The rental and the fuel cost will be unpleasant, but you
probably only need it for a day or two.
CO2 is relatively harmless. It's the CO that you have to
worry about, a lot. Burning charcoal indoors is favorite
way to commit suicide in some countries. Very low concentrations
of CO can be lethal so be careful!
The trouble with boiling water is... if the conditions are
sufficiently cold, the boiling water can soon turn to ice
thereby making matters considerably worse.
Don't use water usless you're sure it isn't going to end
up frozen before you've finished the job.
I've never had to deal with excavating frozen ground but
I'd probably try an electric radiant heater. If you have
(or can borrow) one it would be relatively easy and safe
to try that technique. If it doesn't work you still have
the option of trying something a little more aggressive,
| Malcolm Hoar "The more I practice, the luckier I get". |
I would recommend a bottomless steel barrel. I often use that for
cooking ground wasp nests, but the ground doesn't freeze here.
For charcoal something the size of a #10 can should work, you want a
long slow fire because it takes time for heat to go down.
Free men own guns - www.geocities/CapitolHill/5357/ (add .com after geocities)
how hard it is to break through. once you break through in one spot, it gets
easier to break the frozen soil off in chunks.
another trick i've seen is dumping a bag of rock salt on the spot you
want to dig for a day or two
Thawing before digging looks like making a mountain out of a molehill
considering the time of year. If you are in the lower 48 it is
unlikely the frost will have penetrate very deep yet. A heavy breaking
bar and a few minutes work with it or a pickax should take you through
what frozen soil there is.
Just attach a garden hose to the drain on your water heater.it is
probably due to be flushed anyways and use that. Do you have a post
hole digger or auger?
If you want to do it the easiest way rent a 1 MAN not 2 post hole
digger with the hot water it will be a snap and worth the cost
her is a pic I have rented them a few times and they work really well!
On Sun, 03 Dec 2006 02:33:55 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:
What is a "heavy freeze"? How cold has it been and for how long? How
cold was it in the barn?
Pending an answer, I agree with Hary and Chris. If not a pick, a GM
tire iron/jack handle, the ones with a lug wrench on one end and a
point on the other. Or a big screwdriver and a hammer. Once you get
part way in it will be easier.
You don't? I'm sure there is someone near who sells coal and will
sell you as small or large a quantity as you want. It's not as dirty
as it looks btw. In fact the pieces I have, from loose coal that fell
off a truck in Pennsylvania coal area, isn't dirty in the slightest.
It's solid black, but nothing comes off when I touch it.
I don't think the odor is that strong. I can't think of the odor of
burning coal. But isn't your barn easy to air out?
These last two paragrpahs of mine are not meant to imply that you
actually have to have a fire.
The boiling or hot water idea sounds good, unless you get a phone
call, or people drop by, or you get tired, and the water cools off and
turns into ice. If it is that cold, then you'll be worse off. If it
is not that cold, I don't think you need hot water. Any water will
It helps the fire burn. They sell such things for starting charcoal
fires in a grill. In fact the instructions on the bag, last I looked,
said to pile the charcoal up until it is burning all over, and then
spread it out. The cylinder enables one to do an even better job of
piling it up. Not sure how big it should be , but I think one could
make one from a large coffee can, as coffee is still sold in. Or a
piece of heating duct, or one of the decorative cannisters sold for
sugar, flour, and a couple other things. A thrift store might have an
old set, or better yet, just the size one wants. I think one has to
put holes in the size.
Forget all the hoses, charcoal, hot water, tactical nukes, yadda, yadda...
Get a medium-sized cardboard box or wash tub. Place a 40-60-watt light bulb
on the spot to be defrosted and cover it with the box/tub for a day or two.
The frost, however deep, will be gone. Nuttin' to it.
As for frost in "the lower 48" - we have it here for sure. I live (and dig)
in Nebraska where the frost is often deeper than 2-1/2 feet. "Running" a
frost bar is WAAAAY too much work. Good luck!
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